You have just stumbled upon this blog and realized that it is in German language? Stop, don’t leave at once!
I am so pleased that you have come by that I opened this very tiny English section. Just one text. Just for you. Enjoy!
Kristina had a new haircut. Last time she had changed her hairstyle was after she had left her boyfriend. She had her long hair cropped then. Today the change was not so obvious. But she definitely looked a different person.
Ellen sat down at her table. „You look great“, she said, though she was not sure about it.
„I don’t feel great“, Kristina answered.
Ellen felt accused. This was going to be one of those meetings.
„You had your hair done“, she said.
„Don’t mention it. This is awful. My hair is lopsided. I should have refused to pay for this.“
„I think it is very becoming to you.“
„As I am lopsided too this might be true.“
Thank God, the waitress came to take Ellen’s order.
Most times, it was fun to be with Christina. But now and then, she lost her smiling side. It could be a matter of some minutes, but it could also go on for days. Nothing to do about it.
When Kristina was going through her bad phases, Ellen always wondered if she should stop seeing her. She was just a friend. Why should Ellen put up with her moodiness? But she knew why. She didn’t have many other friends. She had come to this country two years ago and hadn’t succeeded in making friends. She had thought the exchange would open her mind and she would meet interesting people. But what she had found in Germany was a good infrastructure for her academic work and ambitious colleagues who talked about political science in the lunch break. She went out with some of them in the evenings, but also in the pub they were just into politics and football. Even the women.
Kristina was also a foreigner. She came from Latvia, or was it Lithuania? Ellen always mixed up those countries. She could tell Ellen was lonesome. Lonesome persons recognise each other, though they never talk about it. They feign that they have a busy social life. Meetings have to be scheduled one week in advance.
The red wine arrived. Ellen took a sip. It tasted acid. But Ellen wouldn’t complain.
“He was crying”, said Kristina.
“You don’t listen to me”, Kristina said.
“The wine is sour.”
“You always say that and you always take it again next time.”
“This is the Merlot.”
“Exactly what you are drinking every time.”
“Really? I thought that I had Beaujolais before.”
“You always think that you had Beaujolais the last time.”
“I don’t think so.”
Kristina rolled her eyes. “I don’t want to discuss wine. I was talking about the hairdresser.”
“What about him?” Did she really order Merlot every time?
“The hairdresser was crying.”
“When I entered the shop and took my number everything seemed normal.”
“Oh, it was one of those hairdressers”, said Ellen. “I hate those chains.”
“I hate to have my hair cut and those shops do it quickly and without much ado.”
“But you get a cheap hair-do. Cheap quality for a cheap price and the good hairdressers have to close down.”
“Never mind this. I walked into the shop, took my number. The lady that greeted me was very friendly. A bit too friendly I thought. She was smiling at me as if I was a long lost relative. I looked around to see whether I was the only customer, but there were other people waiting.”
“When did you go there? It is always full at lunch time.” Ellen took another sip of the wine. She might get used to it.
“As I said, there were other people waiting. I sat down and took up a magazine. This counting thing on the wall beeped. I knew there were several numbers before mine. But when I looked up at the counter the numbers just ran through.”
“Sometimes people are fed off with waiting and leave”, Ellen said.
“All numbers just passed through until my number came up,” answered Kristina.
“Maybe I should go there myself. Last time I went to the hairdresser, I had to wait for one hour although I had an appointment. What’s the name of the shop you went to?”
“I don’t really know”, said Kristina. “When the counting thing stopped at my number, a pretty young man came up to me.”
“Ah, I know what kind of story this is.”
“You don’t.” Kristina seemed to be impatient today. “The young man also had a wide smile on his face which seemed genuine. I was confused. This doesn’t happen often in Germany.”
Ellen nodded. Before she could say something, Kristina continued: “While the young man was washing my hair, I noticed that he was sniffing. I thought, maybe he has a cold. He led me to my chair, fetched a cape and began to trim my hair. All the time he kept on sniffing. Then, suddenly, he said he would have to go away for a minute as he was crying.”
“He was indeed crying?”
“I couldn’t see his face. I didn’t wear my glasses. I took them off for the haircut.”
“Why did he cry?”
“He came back and continued to do my hair.”
“I think so. It made me quite angry, you know. I couldn’t go away. My hair was wet and half-trimmed. I was forced to sit through this. I have my own things to cry about. Why should I care for him? Just because I paid him? I wanted to think about my own problems. And he cried on me.”
“You should have asked why”, said Ellen.
“It would have been such an intimate question.”
“So you just sat there and listened to his crying?”
“It was a long and uncomfortable haircut. I said to myself that I wasn’t there.”
“But you were.”
“And other strange things were happening. No other costumer was served while I underwent my bitter haircut. They just sat there and looked into their magazines. They didn’t turn a page. And the other hairdressers kept carrying things through the shop.”
“Yes. Big scissors on a pillow, I think. I couldn’t see them sharply without my glasses. And a decorated large cup, also on a pillow or a pile of folded towels. The scary thing was that all of them looked at me through the mirror while they went around the shop.”
“Through the mirror?”
“The stared at my reflection. But, as I said, I only had a blurred vision of this. When the crying hairdresser had finished at last and showed me his work in a little round mirror, I put on my glasses. His face was wet and his eyes were red. Maybe he is allergic to the shampoo.”
“You could have asked.” Ellen said.
“All people in the hair salon were focusing on me. I even had the feeling that they looked at my reflection through the little mirror in my back. I was afraid. I just wanted to get outside. Though they were all smiling. Even the crying one.”
“That is indeed a frightening thing: a whole shop full of smiling Germans.”
“This is not funny”, Kristina said. “They made me feel guilty. They tried to force me to care for their business. And always smiling. I had to defend myself. I cannot be manipulated. Not by a bunch of hairdressers.”
“I would have asked”, Ellen said.
“Of course. I am the one who is crazy here. Stop telling me that I should have asked. All of you. I have a lot of problems. I don’t know where to go. Life is an open field. Too many directions. I am craving for a sign. Just a small hint. I want to find something to live for. I don’t need interference. I can’t take it. But you won’t stop nagging. Look at this.” She rummaged around in her purse until she found a little card. She threw it on the table.
“N. Fortas – The wise cut” was written on the card. Germans like to name shops in English though many customers don’t get the meaning. And sometimes the meaning is weird anyway.
“Ah, that’s the shop”, Ellen said. “But after your experience I am not sure I want to go there any longer.”
“Not this side”, Kristina hissed. “Turn it around. They gave me this when I left.”
On the other side it said in red letters: “Why didn’t you ask?”